One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style." I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it...
My main concern with this is that the beer was potentially dinged for the judges personal preference and not by the beer's actual adherance to the standard, if this is the case then I am suggesting this to be inappropriate and should be called out. I would start by emailing the judge and asking for an explanation as to how the score was manipulated based upon this comment. IMO, making comments based upon the judges personal opinion of the beer in the "Overall Impression" are well and good, however inappropriately dinging a beer by scoring it against one's own personal tastes and not the standards by which it should be judged against is unacceptable practice and should be brought to the attention of the competition organizer.
I really think that this is a bit absurd. I prefer drier tasting BDSAs too because they are generally the better ones
But despite that, do judges not have discretion to determine what is a 30 point beer and what is a 45 point beer by taste when they both fit the guidelines?
It's hard to convey the essence of a beer in a BJCP writeup, which is why I think you can't really learn about beer just from reading the BJCP. The standard for this style is that it should be "digestable" (to quote Marc Limet) . Sweeter versions exist, and can be done well, but I think it's harder to do. Also, you should know that FG does not correlate directly to sweetness because there is a difference in taste between a beer with a lot of dextrines and simply an under-attenuated beer (the type of residual sugar left is different), and also the sensory perception of dry is dependent on other things like bitterness, body, etc. The judge is talking about the taste of the beer, as he/she does not have a hydrometer. Chances are that even if your FG was withing style guideliness, it tasted too sweet.